Monday, April 30, 2012

April showers bring May 100 degree heat and deadly Africanized Honey Bees

The title to this one is only partially accurate. It may be only 90 degrees so far, but the real heat is on the way. I can feel it coming. But, click here if you think I am joking about the deadly Africanized Honey Bees.
Another weekend flew by and now we’re all back to the grind. April came and went pretty fast. I think the months really do go back quicker as you get older. Or, maybe we spend so much time wishing Monday-Thursday would fly by that we wish our whole lives away. I’ll try to consider how I can slow down and just enjoy Tuesday – conference calls and all. If I figure out how to do that, I’ll let you know.



All of our television shows are coming to an end for the summer. I’m kind of glad. I like drifting through the weeks with nothing to watch. I get so far behind on the DVR that it becomes a burden to try and catch up. I did sign up for Netflix and I got one of those Roku boxes so we can spend some of the free time this summer watching all the television we’ve missed. I’ve been catching up on Mad Men. I just started watching Mad Men so now I have to go back and catch the first four seasons. As usual, I’m a late adopter. I’m not sure what’s new and popular now but in three years I’m sure that I’ll hear about it and jump on board.

20120430_Square

Ugh – I forgot to silence my phone and now work emails are popping in there. There is always someone, somewhere in the company checking email and sending something. I wonder if some of them ever sleep. I barely do, so I guess I know the answer to that question.

I dread going to bed. Yes, I’m tired but I am more and more inclined to lie awake no matter how tired I am when my head hits the pillow. I guess this is another exciting part of getting older. Also, I seem to wake up at 4AM every morning and barely get back to sleep in time for the alarm to go off. I’m not sure where I have picked up that habit. Sometimes I am tempted to just go ahead and get in the shower at 4AM and then start responding to emails so other people will wonder if I ever sleep.

That’s it for April. Onward to May.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Free Stern Looks Available Here

I made it to my consultation with the ENT about my new problem – my new cyst that needs to be removed. I can’t even remember now all of the little moles and things that have been removed over the years and I have never had a winner (the big C) luckily.

20120425_droffice
The good news is that the ENT confirmed what my GP said – this one most likely will not be a winner either. But, it still needs to come off and this one will effect my speech for up to a week so we penciled it in for Friday, May 11th so I can deal with the worst of it over the weekend. This one was caused by an injury. I apparently bit my tongue sometime around Christmas. I always knew that Christmas ham was dangerous. So, scar tissue formed, blah, blah, blah. So annoying. I have to get numbed and sliced. It will be a hoot, I am certain. My family will appreciate the silence and will deem it a vacation week.

I can also get some botox when I go back because it appears to really cut down on stern looks. I think my face is sometimes frozen in a stern look so I need to look into this:
20120425_botox

In coffee news, Keurig came out with ANOTHER coffee maker with different cups. They are doing this because the K-Cup patent is expiring. That should mean that K-Cups will come down in price a bit. I am currently drinking the Starbucks Breakfast Blend K-Cups. I can make a whole travel mug out of one K-Cup. I add two Splenda’s and two of these wonderful things:
creamer

Man, oh man, they are good.

That’s it. I have mangled the English language enough today. Break time is over. Back to work.

Friday, April 20, 2012

New AM Radio–Sony ICF-S10MK2

I made a rare purchase and purchased a brand new AM radio at Walgreens this week. It is the Sony ICF-S10MK2 and it was on sale for $9.99. I believe it is normally $11.99 so I saved a big two dollars on this purchase.
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I’ve read a lot about this radio on listening hobby sites. Most people want a little radio like this so they can listen to rare, distant stations late at night. My goal was to recreate the experience I had with a little transistor radio back when I was growing up and I achieved that goal. First of all, the radio is mono. I happen to still have a mono earplug that works perfectly with it. If you plug in stereo headphones, you’ll only get sound on the left.

There is something to be said for listening in mono. That leaves me an ear free to hear the kids if they wake up and start stirring around. It was handy when I was growing up so I could hear if my parents were up and about to catch me listening to AM radio at 2AM. I had a few close calls.

Just last night, I was listening to one of the stations I always listened to on my little green transistor radio way back when – WLS in Chicago. Stations on the Sony come in loud and clear and the controls are so basic that you don’t have to worry about turning on the lights at night to fiddle with it.

For the more technical people who read this, I wouldn’t call this radio a DX machine. Selectivity is not so great. One strength is you can null signals quite efficiently. One weakness is you might be holding the radio the wrong way without knowing it and you’ll null out what you should be hearing. This radio has no problem with all of the usual channels you hear here at night (WBBM, WLS, WBAP, etc.) but I’m not finding anything other than the most powerful stations. I’m going to give this one a try with my Grundig loop sometime over the weekend. I played with the loop during the day and it does dramatically improve weak daytime reception.
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That’s all for my thoughts on the Sony. To the non-radio people, I apologize.

We’re expecting rain in here tonight and tomorrow (much cooler tomorrow also). I don’t have any big plans for the weekend. I’m hoping to get at least a little rest coming off the steroid pack and before my ‘procedure’ coming up on Wednesday afternoon. More on that later. No biggie there – just another biopsy for the medical records. I’m expecting it will be another negative one. I can’t say I am too concerned. I am mostly just annoyed to be getting cut on yet again.

So, another fun week is ahead and a tiring week is finally behind me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two legacies end in one day

Within one hour, news broke that Pat Summit, coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols had stepped down and Dick Clark, we all know who he is, had died.

Pat Summit is a legend here and that legend status is far beyond sports. I saw her in person several times in the early 90’s. She was a force. That glare even burned through me a few times. She was incredible to watch and listen to. It’s amazing to consider the lives she touched over her almost 40 years coaching. It’s sad to see this chapter end the way it has.



And, how many lonely New Year’s Eve nights did I spend at home with Dick Clark? So many that I am still embarrassed to admit it. I even watched American Bandstand on Saturday mornings. Think of all of the great music that no one else was putting on national television when Dick Clark did it. Talk about being instrumental in the civil rights moment.

Let’s not forget the fabulous blooper shows that were the predecessor of a little thing called YouTube. This man did it all and he had the courage to keep going and keep counting down even after his stroke robbed him of so much. Also, the Pecan Chicken Tenders at the American Bandstand Restaurants were INCREDIBLE.



Thanks, Pat and Dick, for everything.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One small leap for sanity

Oh, what a day. I finally decided to tackle my Acer netbook screen problem this afternoon. It’s 3 or 4 years old and had developed a weird short in the display connector over the last year. The screen would keep getting brighter or dimmer (it was always random) any time I would type or really even touch the thing. It was just about unusable when I retired it to the shelf with all of the other relics and parts.

So, where is the sanity in this story? I took the whole thing apart and found that most of the connectors were brittle and appeared to be corroded. To me, it’s the kind of corrosion I would expect in a tropical environment but that is not a problem here. I’m thinking it is just cheap parts. 

I had a choice to make. The “old me” (old being six months ago) would still be fighting with the thing and frustrated as all get out – recovering the worn connector wire, etc. – until I got it back together and maybe usable. The “new me” looked at the mess and immediately threw it into the recycling tote. Gone. I saved the display panel, the RAM, and the hard drive. The rest is garbage. I didn’t even bother putting it back together.

This sounds like an easy decision and for most people, it is. I not only hate to waste or throw away anything until I have squeezed the last iota of value out of it but I also have a habit of seeing these sorts of messes as challenges that I just can’t let go of no matter how frustrated I get or how much time I waste. I’ve done that stuff over and over. Sure, I’ve come out the other side with things working most of the time. But, I’ve also sat up at the kitchen table until 1 or 2 AM on similar stupid projects with mixed outcomes.

It’s just not worth it.

I have spent years wasting various amounts of time on things that, looking back, I realize now just were not worth it. And, the more I realize what is “worth it”, the more I get into a position to see things that others get hung up that is just not worth it either. I guess we all will learn at our own pace. Look how long it has taken me and I’m not there yet.

In other news, Alex the Dog got a new hairdo today:
20120417_Alexthedog

Finally, I am really enjoying the streaming radio via my iPod Touch lately and I found a station that I highly recommend on TuneInClare FM, from Ireland. It’s a mix of music going back to the 80’s –sort of what we used to call adult contemporary. I think I just enjoy hearing the DJ’s Irish voices. It’s oddly soothing for some reason.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The extremely late-adopter finally installs Instagram

I don’t know what took me so long. I already annoy those who follow me on Twitter with an annoying stream of random pictures. But now I can take those pictures and glam them up a bit with the different filters. I can also feel good knowing that my joining will validate Facebook’s billion-dollar check as money well spent. I’m also a part of something that most people have already cooled their jets on. I hit the follow all button on every person that popped up in my Twitter and Facebook lists and only one person regularly posts.

So, what was the subject of my very first Instagram picture?
20120414_wafflehouse

Don’t worry. I ‘m not just going to post pictures of Waffle House. I go other places also.
20120415_dairyqueen

Friday, April 13, 2012

I cannot tell what you say green leaves, but you certainly make me sneeze

This has been one of those weeks that made getting to the laptop long enough to write a meaningful blog post impossible.

Not only have we had stuff happening at church each night this week, but work has been particularly busy. Plus, I started off the week with the roof chaos.

A lot of good fodder to write about has happened in the news – Ann Romney (Can’t the democrats just shut up?), Rick Santorum (He finally shut up after making a rousing speech about sweater vests in which he compared himself to Lincoln), and the big D.O.J lawsuit against Apple and the book publishers. That’s the one that gets me since I work in a related industry plus I did work at Barnes & Noble a long, long time ago.

It amazes me how expensive eBooks are, especially since I have a long-term and extensive knowledge of how much cost is associated with distributing real books that are printed on real paper. The pressure should not be on the stores to reduce prices – the pressure should be on the publishers since they are laughing all the way to the bank while Amazon, B&N, Apple, and Kobo wrestle each other in a winner-take-all competition. You see, the retailers get 30% of the publisher suggested retail price. If Amazon cuts that price, they are taking it out of their own pocket. But, let’s look at J.K. Rowling’s new book as an example:
rowling

Now, maybe this price will be adjusted before September. Let’s hope so. As of today, it’s the same at Amazon and Apple also. $20.30 for a hardcover and $19.99 for an eBook is insanity. But, we’re supposed to be mad at B&N or Amazon for this? We need to be mad at Hachette for this. They won’t print one page. They won’t ship one page. They won’t take one return. The eBook can’t be resold as used when it is read so nothing can be recovered from the purchase price for the buyer. There is virtually NO retail overhead.

Remember back in the 80’s when records went away? 45’s went away also. The ability to buy a single decent song from an otherwise crappy album vanished almost overnight. I guess enough people complained because a limited selection of cassette singles did eventually pop up and even some CD singles were available later. But, for the most part, we had to buy the whole album or lump it. That was until we figured out we could copy off the songs to our PC’s and share them and burn our own CD’s. Why did this happen? It happened because greedy record companies really thought we would be forced into buying $17 and $18 cd’s for one or two good songs.

The publishers are doing the same now. They are overvaluing their content and I believe that are partially doing it out of greedy (don’t forget what Glenn Frey sang about the lure of easy money) and they are doing it partially out of a desire to breathe continued longevity into real, printed books. I buy both – real books and eBooks. There will continue to be a market for both though the market for printed books is obviously shrinking. Even I get tired of opening my Nook and realizing I didn’t charge it. I’ve never opened a real book and found blank pages because I didn’t plug it in.

Finally, Amazon is more than willing to undercut the competition by sacrificing their 30% cut of eBooks because they make their money off of selling Kindles and other items. I have had three Nooks – a first gen Nook (now sold), a Nook Simple Touch (which is fantastic even though I am now drooling over the new one with the GlowLight), and my wife has the Nook Color.
my nook

Why did I choose Nook over Kindle? For one, Nook supports the widely-available ePub format and Kindle does not. They want you locked in their store. I’ve never bought a book from anywhere other than B&N but I am glad to know I could if I wanted to. Also, Kindle didn’t support checking out library eBooks until recently. Again, they wanted to lock you in to their store. And, they now want to lower prices by taking a loss and destroy their competition so we will end up only being able to read off of a Kindle.
I don’t like the idea of that at all.

Yes, the publishers need to step up and get real and lower prices for everyone. Then, the hardware can speak for itself. Finally, we as consumers need to see the big picture and support companies that aren’t shredding memos, dodging tax collections, and conspiring to take over media distribution chains by whatever tactic they deem necessary.

O.K. Enough of that. It’s finally Friday and I am ready for at least a little downtime. Let’s end with the poem I stole from to title today’s entry here on the blog:

Dartside  (by Charles Kingsley)
I cannot tell what you say green leaves,
I cannot tell what you say,
But I know that there is a spirit in you,
And a word in you this day.
I cannot tell what you say, rosy rocks,
I cannot tell what you say,
But I know that there is a spirit in you,
And a word in you this day.
I cannot tell what you say, brown streams,
I cannot tell what you say,
But I know that in you too a spirit doth live,
And a word doth speak this day.
Oh green is the color of faith and truth,
And rose the color of love and youth,
And brown of the fruitful clay.
Sweet Earth is faithful, and fruitful, and young,
And her bridal day shall come ere long,
And you shall know what the rocks and the streams
And the whispering woodlands say.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday

I don’t even know where to begin. I had Monday all calmly planned out. I had NO conference calls scheduled. I even almost had the kids to school on time. I could taste the iced coffee I was going to buy from Burger King on the way home when the roofers called – they had a cancellation and wanted to do my roof TODAY!

So, I got displaced suddenly from the home office with both crazy dogs and ended up at the auxiliary top secret backup home office location.
office_2

Look at that view! It’s suburban paradise. But, I forgot my coat so I froze for the first three hours. Then, the electric company shows up out of the blue at the auxiliary top secret backup home office location to put in brand new power poles! Isn’t that something that happens every day? So, they start drilling and everything is vibrating for two hours. The dogs go insane! And, the people at work must have been strung out on candy because they also seemed determined to drive me extra nuts today.

There is no escape from the craziness!!

And, to top it off, my parents call and they have termites in the house I grew up in. How many termites do they have? Thousands of dollars worth, of course!! I keep thinking, I already have plenty of stuff to worry about to keep me awake at night. Where will I fit this in? I think I have a free slot from 3 to 3:15AM to have nightmares about that.

I expected a meteor to land on the car for an encore but I finally made it safely back here and the roof is done and I am not leaving the comfort of the home office tomorrow for any reason whatsoever. I might not answer the phone. I might just hide under the covers all day.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Baskets

A lot of people on Facebook and Twitter have been posting religious messages since last week as we approached Easter. That’s fine. I don’t join in because I try not to write anything important or meaningful on Facebook and I completely surprise myself when I end up occasionally doing it here.

For the kids, Easter is mainly about the Easter Bunny and Easter Baskets and my kids are close to the end of that age now. You know when that happens because clothes end up working their way into the picture. I’ve never met an Easter Bunny who delivered anything but candy and artificial grass so something is definitely up.

Here is Lindsay’s basket with clothes:
lindsay

Here is Sara’s basket with clothes:
sara

When I was a kid, I didn’t transition into clothes. I transitioned into albums. Yes, we had records. Go ahead and drag me into the Smithsonian. I was 10 years old (Sara’s age) when I got this album as part of my “transitional Easter”. It is still one of my favorite albums and it remains my favorite Easter gift (aside from Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs which I can devour six at a time).
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I was really into 50’s music back in the 80’s because 50’s music was a lot like 80’s music. I guess it’s a lot like kids today who listen to 80’s music. This is an incredible album. When the Every Brothers reunited in ‘83, it was a big deal. This concert was broadcast live on HBO and live on the radio. Like Simon & Garfunkel when they reunited for the Concert in Central Park in ‘81, the Every Brothers were still at the top of their game during this concert. They had a gift. It’s no wonder that they inspired so many other acts, like the Beatles.

I do miss albums. Look at this fold open album cover. Albums had personality and that meant something. You sure don’t get this today when you click and download a song on iTunes.
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That’s it for my Easter entry. I hope you have a good one. Maybe you’ll head to church today. Maybe you’ll get a basket. At the very least, you need to get some of those Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs.
Trust me on the eggs.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Full rainbow, all the way! Double Rainbow!

I’m two years too late to make a stupid video where I freak out over this double rainbow.
rainbow1

This happened as a little thunderstorm just barely brushed us this afternoon.
rainbow2

This is part of the weather system that has caused my roof to be delayed until next week. We’re supposed to get quite a bit more rain tomorrow.
rainbow3

I’m not sure if double rainbows really are that rare. I don’t recall ever seeing one before but I really didn’t pay much attention until the double rainbow guy freaked out over them. I like listening to the song while looking at my pictures.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cinnamon Sunday

I had all of these incredibly deep and thought-provoking ideas for the blog entry tonight and I had even written down some notes. But, I’m just too tired to write anything incredibly deep and thought-provoking.
So, I’m going to write about Cinnamon Crispas.

You might not remember Cinnamon Crispas. I loved them when I was a kid. By the time I started working at Taco Bell in 1991, they had been replaced with Cinnamon Twists. The Twists are pretty good (unless you get a stale batch) but they can’t touch the Crispas. I discovered that there is not much information about the Crispas on the internet. I guess there just isn’t much interest in a fast food product that has been discontinued for over 20 years. I did find this picture:
crispas

I wish that was on my living room wall.

Luckily for me, there is a restaurant right here where I live that has Cinnamon Crispas every Sunday as part of their lunch buffet. I go there for the Crispas. I barely eat the actual food. I grab a plate of Crispas along with my first plate of food and typically go back for seconds and thirds.
crispas2

Come on, Taco Bell. Bring Cinnamon Crispas back!